My 6 Favorite X-Women
A new, all-girl cast of X-Men was announced earlier this week, but for some odd reason, Marvel has decided to focus on their most famous and popular X-Women. What’s up with that? Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Shadowcat? Big names, sure, but do people really like those characters? You know what, they probably do. A lot. I guess that just makes me the odd man out, because almost none of those characters are among my favorite X-Women.
Longtime readers of my blog will know that I have pretty obscure tastes when it comes to comic book heroes. I think Batman and Spider-Man are awesome, sure, as much as the next person, but my real favorite superheroes are guys like Multiple Man and Mimic, so obscure that they barely appear in the movies and cartoons. This comes from reading a random assortment of comics during my formative years, picking up a few issues or a few series here and there and really narrowing in on the characters in those books. So while characters like Storm and Rogue may get top billing, I am far more interested in these 6 X-heroines.
Who is she: Rahne Sinclair is essentially a mutant werewolf, because what better way to make a werewolf cooler than by putting one in the body of a meek, Scottish girl with a lot of daddy issues and extreme amounts of Catholic guilt. Rahne was abused by her reverend father growing up until she joined the New Mutants, a new class of teens recruited by the Charles Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Rahne has always been in a ‘kid sister’ role no matter what team she’s with, whether it’s the New Mutants, X-Factor, X-Force or whether she’s teaching at the Xavier School. Most recently, Rahne has joined her friend Multiple Man in his detective agency in New York City. She also recently gave birth to a demon wolf baby, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing.
Why do I care: To be entirely honest, I don’t really like Wolfsbane. She’s often whiny and has a generic werewolf power. But she also happens to be one of the best friends of my favorite comic book character, Multiple Man. So that automatically gets her a big boost up the list. Multiple Man and Wolfsbane debuted under very different circumstances. She was a member of the New Mutants and he was a lab assistant on Muir Island. But the two of them got lumped together in X-Factor in the 90s, where they quickly became friends, along with another favorite of mine, Strong Guy. Then for years after X-Factor was cancelled, Wolfsbane, Multiple Man and Strong Guy remained best pals and made several cameo appearances together. I collected them all. Here were three characters that originally had nothing to do with one another, but then some clever writers put them together and made it work! So much so that the trio made up the core cast of the MadroX mini-series in 2005, then went on to star in a resurrected X-Factor, currently one of my favorite comics.
Who is she: The 80s and 90s gave us mall culture, and mall culture gave us Jubilee. Real name Jubilation Lee (yes, really), this spunky gal has the mutant power to blast colorful plasma bolts from her fingertips, similar to fireworks. She started out as Wolverine’s junior sidekick in the early 90s before featuring prominently in the series Generation X, where she was a member of the new class of mutants to join Professor X’s school. Since then, Jubilee has bounced around the X-Men, usually in the background and almost always with her signature yellow trenchcoat, because that will never go out of style. Unfortunately, Jubilee has had a rough few years. She was the most prominent mutant to lose her powers on M-Day, forcing her to join the New Warriors just to stay relevant. Most recently, Jubilee was turned into a vampire in a desperately pathetic attempt by Marvel to reach out to the Twilight crowd. That poor, poor girl.
Why do I care: My first real exposure to the modern X-Men was the animated cartoon in the 90s. You all know the one. I was aware of the X-Men before the cartoon from collecting trading cards and reading some of my dad’s old comics, but it wasn’t until I started religiously watching the cartoon that I truly embraced my X-Men fandom. Jubilee was the entry-level character in the series, a young kid (like myself) who was being introduced to the world of the X-Men. I had no idea at the time that Jubilee was a character from the comics, but ever since that show ended and I started regularly reading X-Men comics, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Jubilee. She’s rarely on the front lines of the X-Men, and has suffered through some weird stories, but it’s always nice to see her pop up here and there keeping the 90s alive in all of us. Though I really hope they do away with all that vampire garbage in the new series.
Who is she: The prostitute who became an X-Man. Stacy-X has probably the worst superhero name ever. According to Wikipedia, her name was supposed to be X-Stacy, but repeated publishing errors caused the typo to stick. Sucks to be her. Miranda Leevald is a mutant with both a snake-like appearance and the ability to control a person’s inner chemicals and pheromones. She can give you an adrenaline rush or send you to blissville with flood of endorphins, which is how she came to work in a brothel called the X-Ranch. The X-Men saved her after a group of anti-mutant activists attacked the ranch, and she decided to tag along and become a superhero. Sadly, the racy and provocative Stacy-X didn’t stick around for long, getting unceremoniously dumped from the team when a new writer came along. Then she lost her powers on M-Day and was eventually killed. I guess there’s just no place in the world of superheroes for a working girl.
Why do I care: Stacy-X has a special place in my geeky heart because she was introduced at about the time I started seriously getting into comic books in high school and college. The X-Men movie had just come out and the X-Men comics were being reshaped to match their movie counterparts (this mostly meant adding more black leather jackets). I thought the character of Stacy-X was a rather neat concept. She wasn’t your typical girl-next-door mutant goody two-shoes. I liked her attitude, I liked her look and I liked how much of an outcast she felt among the X-Men. Nobody seemed to want her there, but she had nowhere else to go and the X-Men weren’t going to turn away a mutant in need. And she was really trying to do good. But I guess she was unpopular enough that she was given the old heave-ho before she could really blossom into a great character.
3. Emma Frost
Who is she: Emma Frost is the X-Woman of the 21st century. Whereas most of the popular X-Women debuted decades ago, Emma, a powerful telepath, has really only come into her own over the past 10 years, quickly rising to be a major player in the X-Men franchise. With her wickedly acerbic wit, posh attitude and skimpy wardrobe, Emma started out as the villainous White Queen of the Hellfire Club. But she eventually saw the light and became a teacher at Professor X’s school, and headmistress of Generation X in the 90s. After the success of the X-Men movies, Emma joined the main team at the turn of the century and has been at the forefront of the X-Men ever since, usually seen arm-in-arm with X-Men leader Cyclops (even when both of them are on the run as wanted fugitives).
Why do I care: Emma Frost is the perfect example of modern day comic book storytelling. Comic book fans hate change. I know I have from time to time. Fans want their stories and their superheroes to be how they’ve always remembered. But in the same sense, comic books have to change, otherwise they’re going to tell the same old stories over and over again. Under the pen of Grant Morrison, Emma Frost changed the X-Men. She broke up Cyclops and Jean Grey and she added much needed new blood and attitude to the title. I hated her at first, but overtime I saw all the good change and character growth she brought to the X-Men. She was unique and special, with a wit so sharp it could cut the air. And even though she was rude and some X-Men didn’t like her, we as the reader always knew that Emma cared deeply about what she was doing and who she was helping. She is a very strong, very cool character.
Who is she: Known only as Sarah, Marrow is a brutal, troubled young woman with a mutant power that makes her a monster. And Marrow really resents that fact. Her mutant ‘power’ causes her bones to grow out of control, often pushing through her skin. It hurts like hell, but Marrow is able to then break these bones off and use them as weapons. Her hideous appearance led to Marrow growing up underground with the Morlocks, a community of ugly, monstrous mutants who hid from normal people. Life was hard, and Marrow grew harder just to survive, debuting as a villain. But when the need was great, Marrow stepped up as a hero, putting her anger and hatred to good use. She stuck around with the X-Men for a little while, until, once again, Marvel just decided to give her the boot during some creative changes. She bounced around a few other comics, but for the most part, Marrow has lingered in Nowheresville ever since.
Why do I care: I don’t remember how I came to buy and read X-Men #70 in 1997. I wasn’t buying X-Men regularly, but had perhaps read a few issues here and there. Then somehow I got my hands on that one comic and I must have read it a dozen times over. It was an epilogue, of sorts, to several different X-Men stories that had taken place over the prior year. All of the various X-Men were coming home to the X-Mansion to recover, some of whom hadn’t seen each other for the whole year, and with them they brought a few new members. The issue was all about the X-Men meeting up again and dealing with a new crisis, while at the same time trying to help the new members fit in. Marrow was a handful in that issue, all anger and rebellion, and she was a lot of fun to read. I bought even more X-Men comics after that, enthralled with her attempts to fit in and be a hero. It was a great little tale, and Marrow was a very fun, fresh character.
1. Dr. Cecilia Reyes
Who is she: Cecilia Reyes is such an obscure character that she doesn’t even get her own Wikipedia page. Why must I love the obscure ones? Cecilia was a doctor before her mutant power suddenly appeared, granting her the ability to create a personal force field. It wasn’t much of a power, but with mutant prejudice the way it is, Cecilia lost her job and was hunted by killer Sentinels. With nowhere else to turn, she reluctantly joined the X-Men, but wanted nothing to do with being a superhero. Every team needs a good medic. Cecilia didn’t stick around for long, and for a few years, she was feared dead after being rounded up in a mutant concentration camp. But recently, Cecilia returned to help the team, while running her own clinic. Now she’s starring in the Astonishing X-Men series as a real legitimate X-Woman!
Why do I care: For once, one of my favorite X-Men is actually still around instead of being cast off and lost in comic book limbo. Or turned into a vampire. But it’s only a matter of time before she disappears. Cecilia just isn’t popular enough to hold on. But I like her, I really do. And I first met her in the pages of X-Men #70, where I first met Marrow. I told you that was a defining comic for me. I loved Cecilia’s heroic reluctance, her desire to do good, but not all the way into costumed superheroics. I liked her story, how she just wanted a normal life, but then mutant powers were thrust upon her. She’s funny and wicked smart, with the ease and authority of a seasoned professional. She’s just a cool character, and I think she could be a real standout if writers used her more.
And thank God she’s not a vampire.
Those are my favorite X-Ladies, who are some of yours? Are you a big Rogue fan? Do you wish Jean Grey would come back to life already? Let me know in the comments!